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What Impact Will the Coronavirus Have on College Admissions?

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Dominique Broadway
What Impact Will the Coronavirus Have on College Admissions?

The coronavirus crisis struck just as many high school seniors were preparing their college applications, visiting campuses and planning their new university lives.

So, are college admissions now in doubt, or will applications be going ahead as normal?

We’ll look into some of the key changes you need to be aware of and what you can do to help your application.

How Are Admissions Changing?

Much like the rest of us, the universities are reacting to the coronavirus situation as it evolves and making decisions as more information becomes available.

This means changes to the admission process will depend on the individual university, the type of course you’re applying for and your own personal circumstances.

Some of the key changes, however, include the following:

  • Virtual campus visits are being arranged

With most college campuses now closed to adhere to social distancing guidelines, many are now organizing virtual tours to give students a feel for their prospective choices.

These are hosted by a live tour guide and offer opportunities for question and answer sessions. Some are even offering chats with professors on request. 

Whilst not quite the same as visiting the campus in person, there is the added advantage of you being able to check out institutions across the country without ever leaving your living room.

Get in touch with your chosen colleges to find out what virtual options they’re offering.

  • Deposit deadline extensions

The traditional deadline for sending in your deposit to your university of choice is May 1st. However, the uncertainties surrounding our current circumstances has led a lot of colleges to extend the deposit deadline to June 1st, giving students a little extra time to decide which is the right college for them.

However, it looks like the more prestigious institutions are keeping the May 1st deadline for the time being. Make sure you get in touch with the institutions you’ve been accepted to in order to ensure you don’t miss the deadline.

  • We could see more scholarships

Colleges are concerned that the financial impact on prospective students and their families could have them dismissing university as an option entirely. To counteract this, they may start to offer larger scholarships to try and entice some of those students back. Talk to your chosen institution to see what additional financial help they may be offering.

Get in touch with the financial aid office too. As a result of the crisis, institutions may be revising their criteria for eligibility for other types of financial support.

  • Students staying closer to home

We could also expect to see a larger number of students opting to stay closer to home to study as they simply won’t be able to afford the accommodation and other associated costs with moving out.  

As universities make less from tuition fees from in-state students, we could see them increase the number of total admissions to make up the numbers. Larger class sizes could, in turn, increase your chances of being accepted, even if going local wasn’t your first choice.

  • A big drop in international admissions

Many institutions run courses that are heavily reliant on international admissions. If travel restrictions remain in place there are concerns that some courses may have to be canceled.

However, many colleges are hoping to keep these classes alive by switching to 100% online learning in cases where students aren’t able to physically be in the building. What this means for tuition costs still remains to be seen.

  • More colleges drop standardized testing

SAT and ACT testing is being suspended across dozens of colleges that will no longer require the scores from this year’s high school juniors. This will affect those applying for admission to university in 2021, but the coronavirus crisis has forced an early decision from a lot of institutions.

Many colleges feel now isn’t the right time to be subjecting students to standardized tests in what is already an unprecedented and stressful situation. We may even see this become a permanent change as more institutions drop their testing requirements.

Our Tip

We’d recommend contacting all of your prospective college choices for clarification on exactly how they’re handling their admissions process.

While the above changes are some of the most common, each institution is operating its own policy and will be slightly different.

Take advantage of the extended deposit deadline too and try to take part in as many virtual campus tours as possible. The college experience isn’t just about the brick and mortar campus life, it’s about your fellow students and faculty. Virtual tours will give you the perfect chance to meet potential future classmates and teachers.

If you and your family are struggling financially, get in touch with the finance office of your chosen college as soon as possible. They may be able to provide some kind of assistance or help to see if you’re eligible.

If you have your heart set on attending university out-of-state but can’t afford it, don’t panic just yet. Some institutions will be offering entirely online courses so you’ll be able to complete them from home, without the associated living expenses. While you might not get the same campus life experience, you’ll still be getting the education from your first choice.